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Accommodations are intended to help students with ADHD learn the same information as other students. They are changes to the structures and/or the
environment that provide support to help students access the curriculum. Accommodations work best when they are tailored for the individual needs of the
student based on the severity and symptoms of their ADHD and any other co-occurring conditions. It is important to observe the student to see which
accommodations are effective – and effectiveness of accommodations can change over time. Students can also be enlisted in figuring out what helps them the
most. This will also ensure that the accommodations are seen as support instead of punishment. Teachers, parents, and students should partner together to
address needs and supports.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition lists two categories of symptoms of ADHD—inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive. Students may
have only one type, or they may have both types of symptoms. The accommodations that are appropriate for each student depend on the symptoms and on how
much they impact the student.
ADHD: Inattentive Symptoms
Students with inattentive symptoms are easily distracted and have trouble focusing. Everything competes for their attention. They often struggle to follow
through with instructions and have difficulty with organization.
To help students with managing inattentive symptoms, the following accommodations can be effective:
ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive Symptoms
Students with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms move a lot. They fidget, squirm, and have difficulty staying seated. They often talk excessively, blurt out
answers, and have trouble taking turns.
To help students manage their hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, the following accommodations can be effective:
ADHD: combined symptoms
Many students with ADHD show a combination of inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors. You can use a combination of accommodations from both lists.
One of the best ways to identify which accommodations might work best is to observe the student’s natural behavior.
Some sample behaviors and accommodations include:
Constantly moving in their seat
Try giving them options for how they can do their work and provide breaks.
Attention wavers, but when focused blurts out answers
Try consistent praise for raising their hands and seating them in an area with minimal distractions.
Has trouble completing assignments and tests in the allotted time because of distractions
Try an alternative test setting or breaking up assignments and tests into smaller sections. Allow extra time to complete tests.
Taps a pen constantly that is distracting to other students
Let the student know privately that tapping their pen is a distraction. Ask them if they have other suggestion for how they could focus.
You might offer that they could wave their pen in the air, wiggle it between their fingers, or replace the pen with a soft object to tap
that won’t make noise.
Barkley, R. (2008). Classroom Accommodations for Children with ADHD. ADHD Report.
Dendy, C., Durheim, M., & Ellison, A. (2006). CHADD Educator’s Manual. Lynchburg, VA: Progress Printing.
Parker, H. (2012). Accommodations Help Students with Attention Deficit Disorders. A.D.D. WareHouse.
Zentall, S. (2006). ADHD and Education Foundations, Characteristics, Methods, and Collaboration. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Chaban, P., McAuley, T., & Tannock, R. (2009). ADHD and Social-Emotional Abilities. www.AboutKidsHealth.ca.